Miami’s Flair for Food & Wine

For all of these chefs, being local (and using local ingredients) is an important aspect of their participation in SBWFF. Andrea Curto-Randazzo, of Talula, who will be tantalizing the crowds at Best of the Best at the Fontainebleau on Friday, February 26, with meatball sliders with Sunday sauce and ricotta cheese, notes that, “Naturally, there’s a lot of focus on the national chefs and TV personalities, but the local chefs benefit from that attention too. It brings business to Miami and lets people know that we are a culinary destination, too.” Adds Hutson, “It is so important to be recognized here. This long weekend boosts our business and allows our local patrons to be proud of the rising culinary scene happening here.”

Van Aken, who is known both nationally and locally, sees the necessity of having chefs from all levels of fame. “If the festival and the organizers ever veer too far away from including those of us who hail from this zip code, it will become something that will wither in popularity,” he explains. “However, the South Florida populace loves to see the gathering and camaraderie of ‘local chefs’ and ‘visiting chefs’ on pretty much equal footing. Longevity is founded on loyalty, no?”

Being a part of the Festival is also motivating for many of the participants. “Since the event is in South Beach, local chefs feel so much more involved and excited about attending this type of event because we are all in our own backyard with such a national spotlight,” comments Brasel. “It inspires me to know that there will be foodies from all around the world here in Miami during that week. This alone will let me create in-house restaurant specials that only true foodies would appreciate.” Adds Bernstein, “We get to host so many amazing people here for that weekend. Our staffs are inspired by the food, and by the talent that comes to town. I’ve always loved the festival and feel privileged to be a part of it. And I get to rub elbows with the very best in the business.”

Ultimately, Miamians are the real winners of South Beach’s abundant Wine & Food Festival, whether they are indulging in specialties prepared by their neighborhood toques or sampling the cuisine of celebrated chefs from around the country. Bon appétit!

South Beach Wine & Food Festival
February 25 to 28, 2010